Archive for January, 2013

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Quality is job satisfaction

January 11, 2013

Quality is important. Quality means producing products and services which do not need costly, time-consuming maintenance and support activities. Quality means satisfied customers, who are more likely to come back or recommend you.

But, how do you manage that level of quality? A number of theories have been tried in the past and most have failed.

One of the most common approaches is the focus on key performance indicators (KPI), assigning promotions and premiums on whether some arbitrary number has been reached. This fits in nicely with the concept of the bully manager and encourages cheating, hiding facts and figures, back-stabbing and turf wars within your own organization. Of course, the bully manager has demonstrated success: most banks are run by bullies, so are political parties when they (regularly) require elected representatives to vote according to party lines rather than their conscience or the good of their constituents.

But the banks crashed and had to bully the politicians in given them ill-deserved cash to cover their own greed-related mistakes. Few bully managers have the openings that would allow them to call on the government to cover their mistakes. Bully your staff and they will start cheating to (appear to) please you, or they will leave. You know how to recognize your best people? They are the first ones to be able to get a job with your competitors. It has often been said that bullies act the way they do out of a sense of insecurity and fear of their own limitations; this is certainly true of the bully managers – explaining why they react to challenges with violence, not having the strength, the knowledge or the courage to defend their beliefs.

Now, imagine the opposite.

A manager who seeks to understands your issues and problems, who welcomes the risks (true or not) which you being to her attention. Imagine a manager who believes her job is to empower and enable you to do a good job. She considers her main role is to identify, remove, solve and reduce the things that are stopping you from doing a good job. This manager would collect and use metrics to identify the problems in the system which are creating problems for you rather for identifying the individuals who are not producing their quota.

This manager does not shoot the messenger, on the contrary, she recognizes and rewards those who report risks and problems.

The consequence of this is that you can focus on doing your job, the thing for which you were hired. The person who hired you (or trained you) saw specific skills and aptitudes which were interesting and considered as valuable to the organization. The next step is to make sure you have the means to perform efficiently and effectively.

The goal of this is to ensure that you can go home at the end of the day satisfied with a job well done: you know you have worked well, you have clearly understood what was expected of you, it focused on your skills and strengths, you had the means to do it correctly and worked on it without being continuously side-tracked and distracted by pointless requests or bureaucracy.

That very satisfaction is what will make sure that you return to work the next day, eager to do better. You now want to take real pride in your work, you want to produce quality which is recognized.

And so we complete the loop. The high quality products generate a reduction in maintenance and support costs, the management costs, directly giving a positive return on the investment that was made in you. The high quality products and services encourages customer loyalty and builds word-of-mouth reputation – and brand recognition.

Ensuring job satisfaction is the key to quality, which leads to long-term business success.

Cutting costs, overworked staff, bureaucracy, tax avoidance, minimum wages all are short-term patches on systematic failures.

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